White Like Me

Via Media Matters, a story is flushing through the internets tubes. Glenn Beck had a guest host on his show, a radio ranter named Doc Thompson. Media Matters has a clip from Thompson’s show where he says that taxing tanning booths is racist discrimination against ‘light-skinned Americans’.

This is so funny that I suspect some of the leftie sites are being roped in by satire. I listened to the clip, and Thompson can definitely claim he was just joking, and probably will.

I don’t know if I want to be called a light-skinned American. I actually like to think of myself as a Celt-American, though I checked off ‘white’ on the census form. Maybe some day none of this will matter. We’ve come a long way.

Anyway, I found an answer to the embarrassment of having skin so light I practically glow in the dark, and it’s not tanning booths.

When I was in my early twenties I used to lie out on a beach towel in the blazing sun with the rest of my friends. You can’t read comfortably, especially if you are a Celt whose ancestors came from gloomy lands where it rains all the time. The sun makes me squint.

I got my share of sunburns too. Used tubs of Noxema. All for beauty.

Then one day, I saw a photo of an Irish politician named Bernadette Devlin. She was called the ‘miniskirted member of Parliament’. I didn’t know much about her radical politics, which I do not endorse, but I was struck by her personal style. She had skin the color of Irish soda bread. She could have been my cousin.

Those of us who check off ‘white’ on the census form can lose touch with our ethnicity. Especially if our family has been American for several generations. Bernadette Devlin was a public image of a woman like me. Puffy, pale and unashamed. There really is an Irish look. I decided not to fight nature, and to just be who I am.

I’m glad I had that epiphany in my early twenties– I’m fairly wrinkle-free today. I like the sun, but I stopped baking in it decades ago.

I don’t know if Doc Thompson is a big user of tanning booths. He might be worried that a tax will strain his budget. If so, I’d urge him to accept his true nature without shame. A nice tan looks good on most people, but some of us weren’t made that way. Why lie on a towel on a lawn when you could be taking a nice walk? Why lock yourself up in a tanning booth when you could be blogging? Life’s too short.